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History of Iowa From the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century/4/William P. Clarke

WILLIAM PENN CLARKE was born in Baltimore, Maryland, October 1, 1817. At the age of fourteen he went to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and learned the printing business. In 1838 he came west on foot at the age of twenty-one and reaching Cincinnati established a daily newspaper, and later became editor of the Logan Gazette, in Ohio. In 1844 he went farther west and located at Iowa City where he was admitted to the bar in 1845. He was a ready writer and contributed frequently to the papers on the slavery issue, being a “free-soiler” in politics. He attended the Pittsburg National Convention which took the preliminary steps toward the organization of the Republican party in 1856, acting as one of the secretaries. At the National Republican Convention in 1860, Mr. Clarke was one of the delegates from Iowa and was chosen chairman of the delegation. He soon after purchased the State Press at Iowa City and took an active part in the antislavery contest leading to the Kansas war. As a member of the National Kansas Committee he sent a company of men to aid the citizens of that Territory in expelling the “Border Ruffian” invaders. He was for many years the keeper of a station on the “underground railroad” and was fearless in aiding fugitive slaves to freedom, cooperating with John Brown during his operations in Iowa. Mr. Clarke prepared the original ordinances for the government of Iowa City. He was reporter of the decisions of the Iowa Supreme Court for five years. As an influential member of the Constitutional Convention of 1857 he acted as chairman of the committee on judiciary. Early in the Civil War Mr. Clarke was appointed paymaster in the army, serving until 1866. He was then chosen chief clerk in the Interior Department at Washington, resigning when Andrew Johnson began his war on the Republican party, and returning to the practice of law in Washington, he died February 7, 1903.